Christians and Trump

“The world is watching. When church leaders hold Trump up as a representative of our faith, the damage to the Gospel is immense.  The world sees the hypocrisy, and the result is [they want] nothing to do with it.”   

                                                                                         –  Jerushah Duford     [ huffpost.com]    08/25/2020 ]

 

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I’m Billy Graham’s granddaughter. Evangelical support of Donald Trump spits on his legacy.

By supporting Donald Trump, evangelical leaders are failing us and failing the Gospel. Christian women must step up where our church leaders won’t.

                                   Jerushah Duford, Opinion contributor      [ usatoday.com  ]       August 24, 2020     

 

As a proud granddaughter of the man largely credited for beginning the evangelical movement, the late Billy Graham, the past few years have led me to reflect on how much has changed within that movement in America.

 

I have spent my entire life in the church, with every big decision guided by my faith.  But now I feel homeless.  Like so many others, I feel disoriented as I watch the church I have always served turn its eyes away from everything it teaches.  I hear from Christian women on a daily basis who all describe the same thing: a tug at their spirit.  Most of these women walked into a voting booth in 2016 believing they were choosing between two difficult options.  They held their breath, closed their eyes and cast a vote for Donald Trump, whom many of us then believed to be “the lesser of two evils,” all the while feeling that tug.

 

I feel it, that tug, every time our president talks about government housing having no place in America’s suburbs.  Jesus said repeatedly to defend the poor and show kindness and compassion to those in need.  Our president continues to perpetuate an us-versus-them narrative, yet almost all of our church leaders say nothing.  I feel this tug every time our president or his followers speak about the wall, designed to keep out the very people Scripture tells us to welcome.  In Trump’s America, refugees are not treated as “native born,” as Scripture encourages.  Instead, families are separated, held in inconceivable conditions and cast aside as less than.  Trump has gone so far as to brag about his plans, accomplishments and unholy actions toward the marginalized communities I saw my grandfather love and serve.   I now see, through the silence of church leaders, that these communities are no longer valued by individuals claiming to uphold the values my grandfather taught.

 

The gentle tug became an aggressive yank, for me, earlier this year, when our country experienced division in the form of riots, incited in great part by this president’s divisive rhetoric.  I watched our president walk through Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., after the tear gassing of peaceful protesters for a photo op.  He held a Bible, something so sacred to all of us, yet he treated that Bible with a callousness that would offend anyone intimately familiar with the words inside it.  He believed that action would honor him and only him.  However, the church, designed to honor God, said nothing.  It seems that the only evangelical leaders to speak up praised the president, with no mention of his behavior that is antithetical to the Jesus we serve.  The entire world has watched the term “evangelical” become synonymous with hypocrisy and disingenuousness.

 

My faith and my church have become a laughing stock, and any attempt by its members to defend the actions of Trump at this time sound hollow and insincere.  One of my grandfather’s favorite verses was Micah 6:8, in which we are told that the Lord requires of his people to do justly, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk humbly.  These are the attributes of our faith we should present to the world.  We can no longer allow our church leaders to represent our faith so erroneously.

 

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Trump and the ‘prosperity gospel’ sell false promises to credulous evangelical Christians

President Trump has aligned himself with a false gospel. Both he and it promise you’ll get what you want if you do what they want.

Brendan Clarey, Opinion contributor      January 4, 2020      [ usatoday.com ]

 

President Donald Trump made a speech Friday night [January 3, 2020] at a church known for preaching the “prosperity gospel,” a false doctrine that claims those who give financial support for pastors and churches will become wealthy and healthy.  Throughout the speech, Trump tried to sell himself to Christians as a political savior who, if they vote for him, can give them everything they’ve ever wanted politically and culturally.   That Trump’s first appeal in his “Evangelicals for Trump” campaign comes from this church, Miami’s King Jesus International Ministry, sends a clear message to evangelical Christians: Prosperity gospel and Trump’s promises are as spiritually hollow as they are similar.   Both rely on this basic principle: Give something now, get something later.  Another prime example comes from another of the church’s donation pages: “When we bring offerings to God, He brings overabundance to our finances.”

 

King Jesus International Ministry’s pastor, Guillermo Maldonado, wrote a book, published in 2009, called “Jesus Heals Your Sickness Today,” which the description yells in all caps: “WHILE THE WORLD IS SUFFERING UNKNOWN ILLNESS AND EPIDEMICS, THIS BOOK BRINGS TO LIFE THE MINISTRY OF JESUS.  IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE NEED HEALING, HERE IS THE PERFECT TOOL YOU NEED TO ATTAIN IT.”   The problem with Maldonado and his church’s teachings is that in no way are they supported by Scripture.   God doesn’t promise his followers in the Bible that they will receive “overabundance to our finances” if only they cut him a check.  Similarly, he never promises he will heal them when they are sick.  If you want to know what following the will of God looks like in practice, look at Jesus, who was brutally tortured and murdered on the cross for our sins. Look at all the apostles and martyrs who died on account of proclaiming the Gospel.  The prosperity gospel is based on the lie that you can get everything you want from the world by following God.  The true Gospel is that Christ alone saves sinners like you and me from eternal punishment if we turn from our sin and follow him by God’s grace.

 

Trump spent much of the speech trying to convince evangelicals that he has saved their religion from the clutches of the God-hating left.  He alone ended the war on Christmas.  He alone ended the government’s war on religion.  He alone can defend believers and our churches from being silenced by Democratic presidential candidates.

 

Trump promises to Christians what he cannot give.

And in case you had any doubts that Trump is selling what he cannot possibly deliver, listen to what he said as his speech was coming to an end: “With millions upon millions of evangelical voters, Christian voters and voters of every faith, we will preserve our heritage, we will defend our liberty, we will reclaim our destiny, we will strengthen our families, we will build up our communities, we will restore the role of faith and true foundation of American life.”   How will one vote for Trump on Election Day instantly reclaim our destiny (whatever that means)?  Strengthen our families?  Build up our communities?  Restore the role of faith?  If these kinds of core cultural changes aren’t happening now, years after Trump took office and became evangelical’s greatest champion in the White House, why should we expect to magically see them take effect on or after Nov. 3?   

 

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Not the church I knew: Evangelical leaders grow more dishonest in defense of Trump

When did we decide to leave virtue behind to cater to a politician?

Sophia A. Nelson, Opinion contributor      October 1, 2019    [ usatoday.com ]

I was raised in the church.  They call us “pew babies.”  My maternal great-grandfather was a preacher who often did tent crusades with Oral Roberts in Oklahoma, and my younger brother was a preacher for two decades.  The church is in my DNA, as it is with most African Americans.  But I have been wondering lately what is going on with my white brothers and sisters in the evangelical church and their steadfast support of President Donald Trump, even as he faces an impeachment inquiry.

 

At the United Nations last week, Trump made history as the first American president to host a forum on protecting religious freedom, announcing that his administration would dedicate $25 million to the cause and form a coalition of U.S. businesses to promote it.  Although I support in theory what the president proposed, it does not match up with the way he lives, speaks and tweets.  And it most certainly does not square with his Muslim ban, anti-immigrant policies, mistreatment of migrant children and general neglect of the feed-the-hungry, clothe-the-poor cornerstone of Christian faith. 

Maybe it’s just me, but whatever happened to the once powerful “Christian Coalition” — you know, the moral majority, family values, book of virtues crowd?  Though still influential, their leaders seem to have abandoned those values in their embrace of Trump.  They seem to care more about Supreme Court and federal judges and 401(k)s than about Jesus and his teachings.

 

I am old enough to remember the mostly white-male values-crusaders like Jerry Falwell Sr. (founder of Liberty University), Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Bill Bennett, Kenneth Copeland and others who formed what was known as the religious right.  These evangelicals were indefatigable moralists who did not appreciate presidential candidates given to too much wine, to women not their wives, or to the use of vulgar language (aka locker room talk) or, heaven forbid, something far worse like support for same-sex unions or marriage.  In 1994, these men helped Rep. Newt Gingrich and his fellow Republicans regain control of the Congress for the first time in 40 years.  These men hated President Bill Clinton and his liberal ilk, with their “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies toward gays in the military and their connection to the free-love, pot-smoking, Woodstockian ways of the late 1960s.  Yet some of the same white, Christian evangelicals who were once the backbone of the GOP and who said they stood against what was morally unacceptable in America seem to have fallen into great folly and public sin themselves.  

 

Last month, Politico magazine published an exposé of the powerful Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of Liberty’s founder and a leading Trump disciple.  In a normal world, the allegations against him would probably be career ending.  In fact, students and faculty alike have tried to rise up against him.  One group has called for an investigation.  But in Trump’s new religious immoral majority (my phrase) it doesn’t seem to matter.  Just look at what Falwell is alleged to have done here.  He has been accused of sending sexually provocative photos of his wife to friends and his trainer and enlisting Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s assistance in containing the photos.  He is alleged to be a bully, writing nasty emails and threatening people in his employ.  He attacks students who do not agree with him (Whatever happened to religious conservatives loving free speech?) and blocks them on Twitter.   For his part, Falwell has denied the accusations and asked for an FBI investigation.  He has called students “retarded” and refuses to explain himself

 

[ This article was written in October of 2019.  This month, August 2020, Falwell has finally been removed from his position with Liberty University after two more controversial occurrences – a photo with a woman, who is not his wife, with both of their pants unzipped, and an accusation of his wife engaging in sexual activity with another man while he watched. ]

 

The question now for me, as an evangelical Christian, is has this generation of largely white male evangelical pastors and personalities destroyed their credibility by attaching themselves to Trump?  Have they driven away a generation of young parishioners watching them all bathe in hypocrisy as what they teach in the pulpit is not what they practice in the public policy arena?  I think the answer is a resounding … yes!  Influential megachurch pastors like Franklin Graham, Jentezen Franklin, James Robison, Harry Jackson and even Martin Luther King’s niece, Alveda King, have all tethered themselves to Trump despite his horrific personal conduct (paying off women with whom he cheated on his wife comes to mind), his financial dealings, his henchmen like Michael Cohen, and his divisive, racist rhetoric.  Not to mention his latest inexcusable pressure on the president of Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Biden family.  Even the famously moralistic and straight-laced Mike Pence, Trump’s vice president, defends him no matter what.  The question is why?  Why have they stood by in silence as Trump routinely tramples ethical boundaries and several of the Ten Commandments?

 

Some, like Graham, have vehemently defended him and allowed Trump to proclaim, as he did recently at a North Carolina rally, that Democrats “are not big believers in religion.”   Trump boasted, “Whether it has to do with religion, or our evangelicals … what we’ve done for them and for religion is so important.”  The only conclusions I can draw are ones I do not want to draw; namely, that race and culture have everything to with this sudden “change” in the behavior of white religious conservatives.  The reality is that, just as Dr. King said almost six decades ago, Sunday morning is still the most segregated time in America.

 

I refuse to believe that men and women of faith are wedded to a president who violates every moral code they profess to embrace, simply because of judges and finances.  No.  It has everything to do with fear of a changing America and a cultural displacement.  And fear of one day being in the minority.  I cannot make excuses for them, or suggest they really believe Trump is God’s anointed servant.  That fails on its face.  Trump is not a man of God.  If this is true, faith leaders like Falwell would do well to understand that heaven will not be about us versus them.  Heaven will be about who got it right and who got it wrong.

 

 

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Evangelicals shrug as Donald Trump cozies up to leader persecuting North Korean Christians

Evangelical conservatives shrug as Donald Trump praises Kim Jong Un. Did North Korea’s persecuted Christians matter more when Obama was president?

Jonathan Zimmerman, Opinion contributor        June 20, 2018     [ usatoday.com ]

 

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, wrote early this year [2018]  that North Korea had once again topped the list of the world’s “Most Dangerous Places to be a Christian.” An estimated 50,000 Christians have been placed in prisons or labor camps in North Korea because of their faith, while an untold number have been tortured and murdered. 

 

So where were Perkins and his fellow evangelical Christians last week, when President Donald Trump was lavishing praise upon North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un?  They were on the sidelines, mostly, or congratulating Trump for his diplomatic coup. “This meeting with Kim Jong Un and President Trump is huge,” declared Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelical leader Billy Graham. “Christians are going to benefit in North Korea as a result of President Donald J. Trump.”

 

And that shows you just how far our own country has descended into the dark hell of polarized politics. You’d think that the mass imprisonment and execution of Christians would draw unequivocal denunciations from other Christians, no matter who was president.  Think again.  Asked about North Korean Christians after the summit, Trump said he had “brought up” their situation with Kim and that “it will be worked on.”  He acknowledged that the human rights situation in North Korea was “rough” but added that “it’s rough in a lot of places” around the world.

 

Otherwise, Trump had only great things to say about Kim Jong Un.  “He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart,” Trump told Greta Van Susteren on the Voice of America.  And when Van Susteren asked him what he’d like to say to North Koreans about Kim, Trump replied, “Well, I think you have somebody who has a great feeling for them.  He wants to do right by them.”

 

So let’s try a little experiment.  Imagine that Barack Obama — not Donald Trump — had met with Kim Jong Un.  And then suppose that Obama had downplayed the repression of Christians while applauding the dictator responsible for it.  How would conservatives have responded?  You already know the answer: they would have pilloried Obama for throwing oppressed Christians under the bus!

 

Perkins himself, in a 2015 op-ed written with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted the Obama administration for allegedly turning a blind eye to attacks on Christians in the Middle East and around the world.  “The Obama administration has repeatedly refused to defend religious freedom abroad,” Perkins and McCain wrote, “and continues to ignore its devastating cost to those religious communities targeted … because of their religious beliefs.”   Later that year, Franklin Graham condemned Obama and others for downplaying the executions of Christians in Syria and Iraq.  “It is genocide — and the world seems largely silent about it,” Graham wrote.  Actually, in his 2015 Christmas message, Obama condemned the “brutal atrocities” against Christians.  And he consistently commended the work of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan federal agency charged with “defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.”

 

But the case of North Korea highlights an even more fundamental danger: that we are placing our fealty to political party over our commitment to human rights, writ large.   In his January 2018 column condemning the persecution of Christians in North Korea and around the world, Perkins didn’t hesitate to blame Obama’s “failure as an international leader” for their plight.   In the wake of the Trump-Kim summit, however, North Korea’s Christians don’t seem to matter quite so much to people in Perkins’ camp.  It’s certainly possible that the Christians will ultimately be better off now that the two countries are talking, as Franklin Graham alleged.   But Trump didn’t simply “talk” with Kim; he praised the dictator, for — among other things — consolidating power in North Korea.  “Hey, he’s a tough guy,” Trump told Fox News’ Bret Baier, noting that Kim had taken over “a tough country” from his father.   “If you can do that at 27 years old, I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that.”

 

Back in January, Tony Perkins called for a firm response to the “global threat” against Christianity.  But the real question is whether Perkins and his fellow conservatives will hold firm to their own principles, even as our president cozies up to North Korea.  Either religious freedom matters, or it doesn’t.  Its fate shouldn’t rest on who is in the White House.

 

 

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In a surprising turn of events, Jim Gaffigan, a well known comedian, went on a Twitter tirade after watching the Republican National Convention.  He is known as a “clean” comedian – no cursing or off-color jokes in his act.  He is a Catholic, and his followers are well aware of his faith. Not everyone was happy with Gaffigan’s tweets.  Not because of the context of the messages, per se.  Being a “clean” Catholic comedian, they were upset with the swear words he used.  Trump made the clean Catholic comedian swear !!!  That says a lot !!!

 

 

The night that broke Jim Gaffigan, the ‘clean’ Catholic comedian

Aug 28, 2020

by Brian Roewe   National Catholic Reporter  [ ncronline.org ]

 

 

Jim Gaffigan could take it no more.

 

The every-dad Catholic comedian who tells jokes about food, being pale and avoiding too much activity on Thursday night pivoted to politics, a realm where he seldom, if ever, goes.  But this night on Twitter he let out a flurry of invective-filled tweets as the Republican National Convention came to a close and after President Donald Trump made a case, laden with falsehoods, for why he deserves four more years in the White House — itself the spot from where he spoke and which he transformed from a national symbol into a political asset.

 

Gaffigan had heard enough.

 

 

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Jim Gaffigan

@JimGaffigan

RIP Truth

11:46 PM · Aug 27, 2020

 

That simple tweet from a comedian with an avid following among Catholics set off a series of two dozen more over an hour that repeatedly called the president “a liar,” “a crook,” “a con man” and “RADICAL,” and called out Trump supporters, even those among his own fans, to wake up.

 

 

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Jim Gaffigan

@JimGaffigan

Look Trumpers I get it.  As a kid I was a cubs fan and I know you stick by your team no matter what but he’s a traitor and a con man who doesn’t care about you.  Deep down you know it.  I’m sure you enjoy pissing people off but you know Trump is a liar and a criminal.

11:57 PM · Aug 27, 2020

 

 

He lashed at Trump for lying, “constantly.”  He blasted the president’s daughter Ivanka and her husband/senior adviser to the president Jared Kushner for being part of the same elite class that Trump supporters regularly revile.  He accused Fox News of gaslighting and silencing Trump’s critics.  He said the president has been “incompetent” during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, has buddied up to dictators, intentionally creates enemies and drove former House Speaker Paul Ryan out of politics.  “Trump talks about the Space Program and you can’t safely go to a movie. Wake up,” Gaffigan tweeted.  And he dropped a few F bombs.   “I don’t give a [expletive] if anyone thinks this is virtue signaling or whatever,” Gaffigan wrote.  “We need to wake up.  We need to call trump [sic] the con man and thief that he is.”

 

The online barrage fast became a trending topic on Twitter. It also caught many fans off-guard, especially those who share Gaffigan’s faith.

 

 

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Jim Gaffigan

@JimGaffigan

Aug 28, 2020

 

Heading to bed but remember 

–  If you want to sound crazy please tell me about THE DEEP STATE. 

– To sound stupid please be against CANCEL CULTURE but then accuse anyone with an opinion 

   of Virtue signaling.

  • Trump Derangement Syndrome is meant to distract from the con of Don.

 

 

As I mentioned, some of his fans were not pleased with the foul language he used. 

For example :

 

 

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Veronica Caine

@Factotum1964

You used to be my favorite comedian.  Funny, no swearing, CATHOLIC.  (How many f-bombs in this tirade??) No more.  I will never watch anything with you in it again.  Your poor wife.

4:07 PM · Aug 28, 2020

 

 

It was the type of explosion of insults and truth-telling that many might expect from the other prominent Catholic comedian, Stephen Colbert, who has made confronting Trump and his administration a regular nightly occurrence on his late-night talk show over the past five years.  The mild-mannered Gaffigan, on the other hand, has built his reputation on wholesomeness.  He’s seen as “the clean comedian,” one families can listen and laugh to together.  He makes regular appearances on CBS Sunday Morning.  His short-run sitcom was a big hit with Catholic audiences, and even included an appearance by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan.  And he certainly never curses, at least in his act. But not this night…

 

 

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Jim Gaffigan

@JimGaffigan

Please dont buy that socialist crap either.  Obviously Obama wasn’t a socialist.  This is all lies to scare you and you know it. Biden is not radical.  Are you serious?

12:21 AM · Aug 28, 2020

 

 

Gaffigan too turned his attention to fellow Catholic and Notre Dame icon Lou Holtz, the former football coach who on night three at the convention alleged that Democratic nominee Joe Biden was “Catholic in name only” due to his political stance on abortion.

 

“[Expletive] Lou Holtz.  Biden is Catholic in name only?  Compared to who?”  Gaffigan said in a tweet that also questioned whether Trump himself had paid for abortions or raped women.  The tweet elicited a reply from his wife and comedy co-writer Jeannie who said “no need to curse tho.” 

 

Earlier in the day, the president of the University of Notre Dame also pushed back against its former coach’s framing of Biden, albeit more tactfully than Gaffigan.  “While Coach Lou Holtz is a former coach at Notre Dame, his use of the University’s name at the Republican National Convention must not be taken to imply that the University endorses his views, any candidate or any political party,” said Holy Cross Fr. John Jenkins in a statement.  “Moreover, we Catholics should remind ourselves that while we may judge the objective moral quality of another’s actions, we must never question the sincerity of another’s faith, which is due to the mysterious working of grace in that person’s heart.  In this fractious time, let us remember that our highest calling is to love.”

 

 

Gaffigan has never hidden his Catholicity from his comedy.  In fact, he’s done just the opposite in making it one of the common topics he turns to again and again in his acts.  He’s told jokes about the pope.  He’s told jokes for the pope.  He’s told jokes about telling jokes for the pope. The Gaffigans have a large Catholic family of five children. (He’s told jokes about them, too.)  In recent years, they have taken their full family on tour with them, and they talk openly about their faith, especially as Jeannie Gaffigan overcame a brain tumor.  She even wrote the forward for a handbook on Catholic hipsters.

 

Gaffigan served in 2018 as master of ceremonies at the 73rd annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a charity gala/political roast held in election years by the New York Archdiocese for the benefit of needy children.  In 2016, the Gaffigans received honorary doctorates from the Catholic University of America and delivered the commencement address.  The year before, he was on a stage telling Catholic-themed jokes to a crowd of millions stretched along on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia as an opener to Pope Francis on the final night of the World Meeting of Families. All that has worked to cement a sort of Catholic seal of approval on Gaffigan.  On Thursday night, he appeared cognizant of that image, but made clear it would not hold him back.

 

 

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Jim Gaffigan

@JimGaffigan

 

to those of you who think Im destroying my career wake up.  if trump gets elected, the economy will never come back.

12:01 AM · Aug 28, 2020

 

 

Gaffigan went on to engage with some of his followers who pushed back on what he was saying or how he was saying it.  Well after midnight, he was ready to call it a night.

 

 

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Jim Gaffigan

@JimGaffigan

 

Heading to bed but remember 

–  If you want to sound crazy please tell me about THE DEEP STATE. 

– To sound stupid please be against CANCEL CULTURE but then accuse anyone with an opinion of Virtue signaling.

– Trump Derangement Syndrome is meant to distract from the con of Don

1:09 AM · Aug 28, 2020

 

By morning, stories and posts continued to react to the out-of-character posts.  Many praised him for speaking out, with some writing that he gave voice to the moral urgency of the moment. Fellow comedians came to his defense, standing up for his character but also arguing the severity of the situation to push Gaffigan to go off.  Over on Gaffigan’s Twitter timeline, though, the comedic content had returned, with one of his more topics du jour, food:

 

 

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Jim Gaffigan

@JimGaffigan

 

Do you miss going to stores? Neither do I. Click here to my best store jokes: https://youtu.be/n_EZubA01_o

10:00 AM · Aug 28, 2020

 

The jokes may be beyond the pale, but Gaffigan’s views on the coming election were as clear as day for everyone to see.

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